What Doesn’t Kill You

This is an unsolicited, non-sponsored post. I spent $2.19 of my very own funds for this little adventure.

I thought I had my meals all worked out for this doodle-/house-sitting period. Unfortunately, I hadn’t factored in the likelihood that I would forget to grab a container from my freezer on one of my trips home. But that’s what happened and I didn’t realize it until I was at Kroger picking up salad to go with my…oh, no! Given that it was about 100° outside, I decided I could find something to use as a stand-in for dinner.

Kroger does have a hot food bar, but it looks to be foods prepared early that morning and left to heat (and heat and heat) all day, It might taste fine, I dunno, but it doesn’t look appetizing to me. The adjacent bakery section, on the other hand…

Most of my normal back-up choices (cottage cheese, eggs, tuna, etc.) weren’t options. For several reasons, but mostly because it was one of those kind of days and I was a wee bit on the cranky side.

Eventually I ended up on the frozen food aisle. Since I usually make my own frozen dinners, I had no idea what was available at Kroger. I’d once seen something branded “Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods” at another store and thought Kroger might have it. They didn’t, so I was at a loss. (Did I mention it was hot and I was cranky?)

I had just about convinced myself that a pint of Ben & Jerry’s would make a fine supper when I stumbled upon the Lean Cuisine section of the freezer. And they actually had something that sounded pretty good, and it was on sale! Dammit!

lean cusine salad addition southwest-style

Health food, it’s not, but a quick scan of the ingredients and nutritional information, not to mention my proximity to the ice cream case, made me decide that it probably wouldn’t kill me.

Once home, I opened the bag of lettuce prepped my salad and then checked out the contents of my store-bought freezer meal.

lean cuisine southwest salad additions contents

Yup, that’s it. About 2 ounces (or less) of chicken and a half cup of corn, beans, and peppers make up one packet. There’s also a packet (maybe an ounce?) of tortilla strips and finally, a packet of chipotle ranch dressing. Kind of skimpy if you ask me. I added some chopped tomato to the lettuce pile.

completed lean cuisine southest salad

The finished product. Not shown: the serving of blue corn tortilla chips and salsa I had on the side.

Verdict: Although I much prefer my own meals (something I never thought I’d write), this actually wasn’t that bad. I could recognize and taste the individual ingredients, but the peppers kind of got lost in the processing. It would definitely benefit from a little more seasoning, in my opinion, but then again, I add peppers to almost everything.

The chipotle ranch dressing was really good–creamy with a bite of spice. I don’t eat much dressing on my salad (fork method), so this 2+ tablespoon packet was way too much for the salad. Out of curiosity, I wrote to the Lean Cuisine people and asked for the calorie-nutrient counts for the dressing. It turns out that my meal had half the fat and sodium without all that dressing. The entire packet has 60 calories, 4g of fat, and 300mg of sodium!

In the end, you won’t be finding this in my freezer as a staple, but if I ever needed a meal in a pinch, I’d try it or one of the other varieties on a salad or in a wrap. But for regular consumption, I’ll stick to my own cooking, plain though it may be. :)

Needless to say, I made a point of going by my house the next day for my homemade lean cuisines–Mexican Chicken this time around, which I am enjoying with a dab or two of chipotle ranch dressing.

And thus ends my excursion into the land of frozen dinners. I ate one and I didn’t die. In fact, I liked it a little. :)

Are there any frozen meals you’ve tried and liked? Did it surprise you?



24 thoughts on “What Doesn’t Kill You

  1. Funny that you posted this as just today a co-worker brought one of these to work – she forgot her lettuce and so didn’t eat it but I will pass on your somewhat positive review and encourage her to remember her lettuce!

  2. Good to know on the salad add-ins.
    Not gonna lie, I made a frozen lasagne for the family last night – I was exhausted and no meal plan and it was easy and good!!!

  3. I used to eat Lean Cuisine Glazed Chicken all the time. Its their best seller, and it was very tasty! But being that they make their dinners to be about 250 calories, it didn’t keep my hunger away that long. I learned to supplement with veggies.

    This is good to know about. An easy way to get a salad on the road!

    • That’s a good point about the satiety, Debby. I don’t think this would have carried me over until morning on its own. I had my pre-planned yogurt sundae later in the evening, which helped the cause, I’m sure.

  4. I’m like Debby – I used to eat LC meals for dinner and was STARVING. Turns out I need a little more that 250-300 calories for a meal. I haven’t had any frozen dinners in a long time; truth be told, if I was in a pinch, I’d pick a “healthy” pizza from the frozen food section.

    • LOL I actually had thoughts of an LC pizza in mind when I wandered away from the ice cream. I remember eating one of those way back when and it wasn’t so bad.

  5. Ah the memories of having a pint of Chunky Monkey ice cream for dinner. Thankfully, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve done that although I’ve been tempted a few times. Funny how “cranky” will cause our minds to wonder to tempting food. :)

  6. I’ve wanted to try them, as a “I EAT SALADS EVERYDAY AND THEY GET BORING” pick me up. We shal see :o)

    Happy Friday!

  7. Oh yes, I’ve tried them all and truth be told, I haven’t died. Since I don’t enjoy cooking AT ALL, I do rely quiet a bit of frozen dinners just for the simplicity and portion control. There are several Lean Cuisine and Smart One entrees that I really like. Haven’t tried the Salad Additions.

    • I tend to stay away from the meals partly because they usually have one or more ingredients I don’t like. Mushrooms (ick!) are a great example. :) Plus, I am cheap. LOL

  8. I lived on LCs for a long time, particularly when we had our business. They just got carted along for lunch and I was always so hungry! The last frozen dinner I had was an Amy’s one. They sent me 4 dinners to try a couple years ago and they were pretty decent, if still seemingly dinky.

  9. I tried this same meal a few months ago and had a similar reaction. It’s really not bad in a pinch if you bulk it up with some extra veggies. It’s really about making the best choice in any given situation. I commend you on staying away from the bakery and ice cream!

  10. I haven’t done frozen dinners in a while I think Amy’s enchiladas were the last I remember, but do confess to grabbing grocery store rotisserie chickens all the time with god-knows-what pumped in them because I’m too unorganized to buy something less questionable and roast it ahead of time.

    I figure, like you, if it’s not a pint of ice cream I’m ahead of the game!

  11. I’m a frequent frozen meal eater, I just don’t have the time or energy sometimes to cook a healthy meal. Have to admit that some are surprisingly good and others are like eating cardboard. Home cooking is definitely better though.

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